AN award-winning East Renfrewshire charity which uses four-legged friends to make sure older people don’t suffer from loneliness is in line for a major cash boost.

Give a Dog a Bone, launched by Louise Russell in November 2013, has been shortlisted for a £50,000 grant which would allow a major expansion of the charity’s services.

The money would help pay for a third community space where people who don’t have a pet can pop in for a cuppa and a chat, learn new skills and make friends with companionship dogs.

The charity already runs community spaces in Shawlands and Troon and would open a third, possibly in Perth or Edinburgh, if successful in the grant scheme run by Ecclesiastical Insurance.

Around 200 people a week visit the two existing centres.

Louise, from Clarkston, said: “The community spaces give people who have retired the opportunity to enjoy being with dogs at a time in their lives when they don’t want the responsibility and commitment of having a pet.

“Perhaps they have enjoyed the experience of having pets previously but now find they are not able to do so for one reason or another.

“It’s a bit like babysitting – they can hand the ‘baby’ back at the end of the day.

“If we are successful, the £50,000 grant would support the running costs of a third community space for two years, helping to enhance the lives of hundreds more elderly people by providing a safe space to make new friends, learn new skills and mix with dogs.”

Give a Dog a Bone also provides funding for the over-60s to have a pet if they are struggling financially.

Louise said: “We have to establish that they would need financial support to have a dog, which we stipulate would have to be a rescue dog.”

Since being launched six years ago, the charity has helped rehome more than 300 cats and dogs with over-60s looking for companionship.

Louise is delighted that Give a Dog a Bone is in the final 15 shortlisted from a total of 800 applicants and is one of only two in Scotland to reach this stage.

In recent months, the success of the project has seen Give a Dog a Bone win the Celebrating Communities category at the Scottish Charity Awards and Louise won the Amazing Community Contribution prize at the No.1 Magazine Amazing Women Awards.

The winner of the Ecclesiastical Insurance £50,000 grant will be decided by public vote.

To give your backing to Louise’s charity, go HERE.